Movement Intercedes for the Persecuted Church
By Carl Stagner
Did you know the first Sunday of November is observed by Christians each year as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church? Though often overlooked by popular media outlets, followers of Jesus Christ in various parts of the world face persecution because of their faith. While their resolve often inspires, their witness also reminds believers who hear their stories to intercede on their behalf. Again this year, Church of God leaders and congregations are among those persuaded that prayer can move mountains for our sisters and brothers in places where living for Christ can be downright dangerous.
Various friends of the Church of God movement routinely supply our congregations and pastors with materials helpful to this kind of intercession. The Voice of the Martyrs has historically been one of the fiercest champions of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, often simply known as IDOP. Free resources are available again this year through their website, including a short feature film about a young man’s experience leaving Buddhism behind for Jesus. Other valuable resources include a prayer guide, promotional videos, questions for reflection and discussion, prayer slides, a sermon-builder, and an insert for church bulletins. A physical copy of each resource is also available for a nominal fee.
“When we extend our love and help to persecuted Christians,” Voice of the Martyrs observes, “we receive an astonishing blessing in return. Persecuted believers provide us with examples of bold faith in the face of severe opposition. And, as our faith and witness are increasingly challenged, we benefit from the true stories of these exemplary brothers and sisters.”
John Johnson, who serves alongside his wife Gwen as regional coordinator for Africa, has said of the persecuted church, “The church does not bail or balk at persecution but, rather faithfully and boldly stands in the midst of it. In death or in life, the early church is witness to the validity and power of the resurrection.”
Don Armstrong, regional coordinator for Global Strategy to Asia and the Pacific, “Pray that we can continue to encourage these brothers and sisters, and truly understand their situation. We need to understand how people in these persecuted churches came to be in the situation they are in. What is holding them together as a community? [We need to ask God] how we can help without being condescending.”
Voice of the Martyrs offers the following, concluding invitation to participate—whether on November 5 or any other Sunday that best aligns with a church’s calendar: “Join us in prayer with Christians around the world this November for the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. This special day is set aside as a global prayer meeting on behalf of persecuted Christians who stand as a bold witness to Christ on the world’s most dangerous mission frontiers. The earnest prayers of the global body of believers testify to the unity found only in Christ. May God inspire us as we enter into fellowship with our persecuted Christian family.”